Three out of four B2B companies take over 100 days to close a sale. This is often because, even as a company presents solutions, the customer doesn’t always recognize their problems or understand what their problems cost them.
Attracting and closing sales means delivering the right information in a compelling way. To keep your customer’s attention, your content must be relevant and attention-grabbing. You have to maintain this engagement throughout the journey — from priming them as prospects to retaining them as loyal customers.
The power of engagement is clear: While 87% of B2B companies used creative to increase brand awareness, the same report found that only 51% successfully used creative to generate sales. So where are we falling short? I find that it boils down to three things: message, visuals and content type.
According to Donald Miller, author of Building a StoryBrand, “People don’t buy the products and services that are the best. They buy the ones they can understand the fastest.”
Make your message crisp and laser-sharp. No one should be confused about what issue you solve and how well you can solve it. To really hook an audience, try sharing a good, relatable story. The goal is to propel your audience to action by presenting a clear case that you have the best solution to their pain points.
Research by 3M found that “visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.”
Leverage the power of diagrams and visuals instead of long paragraphs. For example, when sharing a relatable story, make sure to include visuals that guide people’s attention and help lead them from their pain point to your solution. Visuals add quick understanding to storytelling that text cannot.
The content medium you use (video, report, presentations) is the canvas where your message and visuals live. What content type to use will ultimately depend on the stage your customer is at and what channels they are on.
Here are some content types I frequently work on for our clients:
• Videos. Videos are great to help increase brand recognition, for personalized introductions before or after a sales call or for automating client/employee onboarding training. You can share them on social media, in person or at virtual events. Over 70% of B2B marketers see a return on investment (ROI) from their videos, which makes sense given that a Google survey found that 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos during the buyer’s journey.
• E-books. Nearly half of marketers say e-books are their most successful deliverable. I recommend sharing e-books just before or after sales calls in order to demonstrate how you meet prospects’ needs. Only send relevant material that involves their pain points. If you want existing clients to leverage your services or product, also consider sharing a case study that illustrates how you’ve helped other clients with similar challenges.
• Industry Reports. Use current data from clients or orchestrate an industry survey to prepare a useful report that prospects and existing clients can appreciate. Most B2B buyers (96% according to the last survey on it in 2016) prefer content with input from industry thought leaders.
• One-Pagers. These are quick and easy to read. One-pagers are ideal for post-sales call follow-ups. Make sure to highlight a singular pain point and underscore your company’s ability to solve the issue better than your competitors.
The Bottom Line
Great content helps B2B companies shorten their sales cycle by priming ideal prospects with the information they need when they need it.